For a moment I was puzzled. Why does a film like this – reminiscent of the admirable crowd pleaser Children of Men – not have mainstream distribution? The premise is simple yet with massive ramifications… one day a man suddenly goes blind. He sees nothing but white, and doctors can’t find a reason for it. It turns out to be infectious. So more people become blind. And even more. Until civilisation is thrown into chaos.

It didn’t take long to deduce why the big studios didn’t back this particular film – it’s horrid. I don’t mean that it’s terribly flawed… it’s just so unenjoyable.Blindness Fernando Meirelles, director of City of God (Cidade de Deus) and The Constant Gardener has crafted a film that is awfully depressing.

You see, this sudden affliction brings out the worst in humanity. Without exception. No one in this film has any redeeming features, and seeing a bunch of adults create their own ‘Lord of the Flies’ is more than a little upsetting. Even the best of characters end up acting selfishly. By the end of the film we will have been subjected to theft, rape, murder and a worldwide squalor that would rival any teenager’s bedroom. It’s mightily unpleasant.

Technically, the film is a wonder to behold. It’s beautifully shot – all blues and whites – exactly what it’s like when you move from complete blackness to bright light. The framing is also clever – often cutting off people’s faces above the mouth. It sounds strange but it works perfectly to get across the communication difficulties faced by the characters. The music and sound design is well thought out also.

The acting’s great, though as I said it’s hard to like anyone in this film. Mark Ruffalo plays an eye doctor who’s just as lost as everyone else, whilst Julianne Moore plays his wife, who seems to take the phrase ’til death do us part’ incredibly seriously, even when her husband’s actions are reprehensible. The doctor’s wife has something that none of the other characters have, and this means she has to shoulder a massive burden throughout the film.

I can’t imagine that Blindness is going to do too well. It’s the antithesis of a crowd pleaser, and audiences will most likely leave the cinema feeling depressed and possibly a little ill. It is an uncompromising vision (a-ha), however.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 21st March 2009
Hoopla Factor: 2.0 stars

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